It’s been a one-month break from computers, emails, skype conferences and the e-world at large. I’m not complaining. Taking full advantage of the festive season, our trio of monks travelled to towns up and down the country, with the aim of sharing spiritual wisdom in the form of thousands of books; ancient writings which are food for thought in a fast paced world. Our approximate route: London – Norwich – Lincoln – Newcastle – Sunderland – Durham – Middlesbrough – Sheffield – Nottingham – Derby – Leicester – London (and a lot of smaller towns in between!) One evening, as we drove over the River Tyne and advanced toward Newcastle City Centre, the enormity of modern civilisation dawned on me; a complex web of flashing lights, billboards, rushing cars, tall buildings and amusement facilities. It made me wonder whether the few hundred books in our car boot would change anything in this bustling city. Was the five-hour journey from London even worth it? Would we do anything of significance while we were here?
I like to see myself as someone who is efficient and effective. The thoughts troubled me, but I nevertheless continued with enthusiasm. One morning, however, a reflection offered me some perspective. This endeavor to share wisdom with the world is largely about my own transformation. Extending our hands and reaching out to others is an opportunity to develop compassion, tolerance, empathy, and sincerity. Only after developing such qualities can I think of significantly changing the world, or touching someone else’s life. I contemplate my motivations while delivering my message. Is it to establish my supremacy? Is it to expand my fame and influence? Is it to cover up my own sense of insecurity? How many deliver their message out of a true sense of concern and love for another? That is what is ultimately required. Spirituality travels from heart to heart.
A famous Christian leader once reminisced about his desire to change the entire world. After years of hard work he gave up, and instead shifted his focus to changing his country. Even that proved difficult, so he reverted to changing his town. When that failed, he thought he would at least try to change his family. Surprise surprise, they weren’t having any of it! In his old age he realised his fatal mistake. “First and foremost I should have changed myself. Inspired by the transformation within me, maybe my family would have changed. With their help I could have changed the town, and then we could have done something for our country. Who knows, maybe that could have led to global change!” It’s interesting how much we think of changing the world, but how little we contemplate the transformation of ourselves. The global revolution begins with a personal resolution. As Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world“.